Music and language…

I’ve always thought of music as a language, although I realise it’s more complicated than that. It seems that music doesn’t convey meaning in the same way as a language, such as English, does. It is not ‘significative’ in the same way. I guess you can’t, for example, order a cup of coffee using music very easily. But as a means of expressing emotion, or conveying something I feel necessary to ‘get out’, music sometimes seems to do a better job than trying to put it into words.

When I started to study flamenco guitar, I also started studying languages at university. Italian, to be precise. There is something about having to make the extra effort in putting together a ‘sentence’ that is attractive – in both Italian and flamenco. Samuel Beckett wrote in French for this reason, apparently. Another giant.

I learned Italian mainly at university, and largely through an intensive course learning the rules of grammar. When I got to Italy it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Eventually I could speak, and reasonably well, but the process was not fun!

Since then the Italian has gone, pretty much, and due to my partner being French, and living in Aix en Provence for over 2 years, French is my main second language. This time I’m avoiding grammar. It’s true that I don’t understand French in the same way as I did Italian, but I’d much rather learn this way, as babies do. It does take longer though. And learning only happens on an ‘as needed’ basis.

And flamenco guitar is like this. I’m aware, especially when I meet other, more accomplished, guitarists, that they have often built their ability on solid foundations of musical ‘grammar’. And I haven’t. And they often look confused. Like, how on earth did I get to this point. 

This week’s video starts with a Taranta tremolo by Paco de Lucia, which I have been studying for a while. It’s been suggested that I play more simple tremolo pieces before trying to play something like this, and I do, but this is what I want to play, so…

And the tremolo is followed by something I wrote. I’m not sure if I have an ‘accent’. I hope so. 


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